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Coronavirus: What Are Pubs Doing to Keep Customers Safe?

People drinking in a groupRestaurants, cafes, bars and pubs in Northern Ireland, Scotland and England, as well as bars, are welcoming customers again for the very first time since the lockdown started in March.

Restaurants, pubs and hotels in Northern Ireland, Scotland and England that serve food at their tables are now able to reopen indoors.

In Wales, restaurants, pubs and Shoreditch Saturday night bars have opened again outdoors starting on 13 July and will be reopening indoors starting on 3 August.

Is Going to a Pub Safe?

Northern Ireland, Scotland and England have issued guidance on measures that restaurants and pubs must take in order to keep their staff and customers safe.

They include the following:

– Controlled toilet access.
– Standing around the bar and live gigs will not be allowed.
– Pub-goers will be encouraged to book their tables in advance.
– Music should be maintained at low volumes so people do not need to shout, which increases transmission risk.
– Staff should thoroughly wash their hands before they handle cutlery and plates.
– An option for ordering food on an app.

In the meantime, the pub chain Wetherspoons has stated that it will be providing its staff with protective eyewear and face masks and will be running a reduced food menu. Individual sachets will be replacing bottles of mayonnaise and ketchup. Customers will be encouraged to sit outdoors in pub gardens, with some indoor seating areas being separated with plastic screens.

In Northern Ireland and England, social distancing was reduced to 1m (3 feet) from 2m (6 feet). In both cases, there are restrictions. In Scotland, restaurants, cafes and indoor pubs may apply for exemption from its 2m social distancing if certain steps are taken.

If I eat out will I need to provide contact details?

Guidance has been published by UK hospitality and pub trade bodies for restaurants and bars on how to handle contact tracing.

– People are able to refuse to provide information, however, owners also have the right to not serve them.
– Data may be taken in any form – over the phone, online or on paper.
– Customers only are required to provide their phone number and name. Owners should note the arrival time and the length of their stay as well.
– Details need to be kept for 21 days.
– Contact details only must be taken from one individual in a group.

If a customer does test positive, will the restaurant or pub be required to close?

Not necessarily, but possibly. According to official government advice, an NHS Test and Trace call doesn’t necessarily mean a restaurant or pub will be required to close. It will depend on when the infected individual visited and on the circumstances.

NHS Test and Trace may ask staff to:

– be tested for COVID-19
– self-isolate in certain circumstances
– be even more careful with social distancing

Local health protection officials do have the power to be able to close businesses.

A couple of English pubs, which reopened on 4 July, closed after some of their customers tested positive for COVID-19.

If NHS Test and Trace contacts you personally, you should follow their guidance and be prepared to self-isolate for up to a fortnight.

What did the hospitality sector do during the lockdown to cope with the situation?

UK Hospitality reports that in 2018 the hospitality sector was the country’s third-largest employer. However, many cafes and restaurants were struggling already before the outbreak of COVID-19, due to reduced consumer spending and rising rents.

Thousands of industry workers have been furloughed under the job retention scheme of the government, allowing them to receive 80% of their monthly wages up to £2,500. A statement from the British Beer and Pub Association, representing the pub industry, says it welcomes reopening business but is calling on pub-goers to support staff members to make sure that everyone can enjoy returning to the pubs safely.